The world is on edge with the rapid spread of COVID-19, otherwise known as the coronavirus. As the number of those diagnosed globally increases, the search for a solution continues. The United States now has the highest number of confirmed diagnoses of any country; and as testing becomes more widely available, we will see this number continue to climb exponentially. Italy has offered an inside look at their reality, which the United States is also preparing to face despite the measures taken in an attempt to reduce the spread of infection and increase hospital capacity. Countries around the world have taken unpresented steps to help slow the spread of the disease. Travel restrictions have been put in place for hotspots around the world, many cities and states have a shelter in place ordinance in effect, and the public is being told to partake in social distancing, which means standing at least six feet apart from others. These measures are an attempt to “flatten the curve” (slow the transmission rate) and mitigate the risk of many people seeking treatment at once. These initiatives, along with IoT technology, are crucial for managing capacity and infection control during an outbreak like this.

Sensing and locating services can be used to prepare and respond to health emergencies. One of the biggest issues that Italy is facing during this pandemic, is the overcrowding of healthcare facilities. Hospitals in Italy are running out of ventilators, doctors and nurses are being overworked and becoming sick. These healthcare facilities and providers are not only being challenged to treat those who have been diagnosed with the novel disease, but those with other health conditions as well. Hospitals around the globe should optimize their facilities and workflows to be prepared to handle a mass influx of patients.

As the public seeks increased medical attention due to the virus, healthcare facilities and professionals will feel the demand. Just as the case in Italy, what happens if hospitals begin to run out of beds? If doctors and nurses need to decide who will receive care and who won’t? With advancements in IoT technology and interoperability, situations like these can be managed more effectively. Location and sensing hardware, partnered with capacity management software, can provide benefits such as improving patient throughput, increasing bed turnover capabilities, optimizing resources, including staff and critical medical equipment, and reducing length of stay. The solution allows for patient room and staff assignments to be automated, which reduces wait times and crowding throughout the hospital. It also supports quicker bed turnover, in which the system communicates bed status automatically, allowing another patient to be treated swiftly. Decreasing wait times and time spent in the hospital lowers the risk that a patient will develop a hospital acquired infection and increases the facility’s capacity to treat infected patients in a timely manner.

The ability to locate patients, staff and equipment allows for improved visibility, which supports many use cases including infection prevention, contact tracing, and capacity management. During an outbreak of any kind, it is important to know who, and what, encountered the contagion. Being able to identify equipment and individuals who have been in contact with the virus allows hospitals to quickly and effectively contain the exposure. To view a webinar on this topic, visit www.centrak.com/webinars.

Modern healthcare is in uncharted territory. If the disease continues to spread this rapidly and cases increase, Italy’s situation can become any country’s future. IoT technology gives healthcare providers the ability to focus solely on caring for patients, by allowing critical processes such as bed management and contact tracing to be automated and human errors avoided. In this time of uncertainty, you can be sure that your locating and sensing services platform can provide important data relating to the spread or containment of the disease.